Omission Breeds Suspicion: Healthcare & The Lack of Minority Points of View in the Media

Lately, I can’t click on the television (sometimes referred to as the tell-lie-vision) without seeing throngs of angry, predominantly white folk screaming about health care. In some cases they are indoors and at other times they appear to be assembling outside and they are heated! Bill Maher made the best comparison to date when he said, “White people in Town Halls acting like black people in movie theaters”.

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Regardless of what city I may find myself during the news hour I make it a habit to scroll only through the local stations– as much as love CNN and MSNBC and the like, I purposefully ignore them at that time because not everyone can afford cable and I want to see what Joe Everyman and Jane Everywoman are seeing because – “truth be told”- that is where most of America’s opinion is being formed or validated.

Now, is it just me or has anyone else noticed that there are no minorities being shown verbally wrestling with the members of Congress at these forums? When I proffered this question to some of my friends I got two quick responses: “…I was concerned with the two sisters I saw being escorted out and wondered why that was shown over and over and over…” and a second response stated, “There was a black woman getting into an altercation at one of the Town Halls”.

It was safe for me to assume that this image, seen by two different people, with two different points of view were one and the same. An addendum to my initial problem was born. First, the lack of minorities depicted troubled me. Secondly, the only depiction brought to the fore was “… a Black woman getting into an altercation …” with … wait for it … ANOTHER BLACK WOMAN! Or so it would appear because there was no explanation given and they were not interviewed. They were escorted out by the police and from the footage it is hard to tell what exactly transpired but it is suspected that they were supporters of President Obama and they were thrown out for disrupting the meeting by waving signs that expressed that support.

All that being said, what are we to conclude from the fact that all over the local news channels these forums appear to have been virtually devoid of any people of color on an issue as important as Healthcare?

A) Minorities don’t care because most are not insured anyway
B) Minorities have no opinion
C) Media doesn’t care about the opinion of minorities
D) Minorities have to work and don’t have the time/energy to attend these forums
E) I am just preoccupied with the issue of “race” and how it manifests in society
F) All of the above

But wait!

When I sat down to write this I thought that my topic would be healthcare and its reform. I am finding that as I continue to write and analyze what we have been shown on television (“we” being me, Joe Everyman & Jane Everywoman) I realize what bothers me at my core … Race.

I have always been and will forever be fascinated by the issue of race and its chokehold on this nation and her progression. Simply fascinated by the fact that whenever America shows how great she is or how terrible she can be it has stemmed from an issue of race. And for those of us who want to deny its power – especially over this nation – even the defense of its denial robs us all of valuable time and energy better spent on issues of mutual import.

So as I alluded to earlier it would appear that Black folk and other minorities are not interested in the issue of healthcare or the recent forums. According to what I have seen on Joe & Jane’s news stations, Black folk have no interest in the issue on any level. As the news reporters scan the nation since the recess of Congress, have you seen them stop by any Black member of Congress’ – House or Senate – Town Hall meeting to date? What’s that? Representative David Scott of Georgia you say? True, the media did stop by his office and they never went inside. They interviewed him outside and the main thrust was not the merits of the bill or the intricacies of healthcare reform but rather the swastika spray painted on the sign to his office.

Are we to believe that even Black, Latino or Asian (so called) leaders (I can use that term no more loosely) and elected officials have no interest in healthcare reform?!? Of course they do. The omission borders on criminal. And omission, whether it be intentional or unintentional, helps to create and sustain division … or at least the appearance thereof.

Omission Breeds Suspicion: Healthcare & the Lack of Minority POV in the Media © 2009 by Wendell F. Phillips

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